Monday, May 20, 2013

That's a wrap!

Well I have officially been back in the states for one week so I'm finally able to catch up on a lot of things I've been forgetting to do, like blog!

 First of all I apologize for not posting anything since Spring Break! Since then I had visited Berlin, Pisa, Lucca, Montelcino, Venice, Verona, Vicinza, Pompei, Sorrento, and Capri! If I remember I'll make a whole blog post about the highlights of those places, but I just wanted to write about my overall experience this semester as far as what I learned, what I'll remember, and what it's like being back in America!

First of all I want to give a HUGE shout-out to the University of Oklahoma in Arezzo. They are a phenomenal staff and super welcoming, this semester would not have been the same without them and how easy they made our transition into Italy. From picking me up at the airport, to helping us get settled into our apartments, making us feel at home, putting on events, and so on. Cannot thank them enough.

When I was back at my hometown church yesterday, I got a lot of "Would you do it again?" It did not take long at all to answer that question. Of course! I would love to re-live everything, even the bad days. If the opportunity arises I would go again, and stay longer.  It's not that I have anything against home or anything, there is just SO much to see in the world and I feel like I only saw a very tiny portion of it. The day after I got back I was ready to explore more, so a week later that feeling has just intensified even more.

As far as "have I changed" I really don't think I came back as a completely new person because that doesn't happen in less then 5 months (at least for me), but I do think I am more aware of things around me and how I react to them.  At the very beginning of the semester I was really bothered by the people trying to sell me knick-knacks when I'm in a coffee shop reading a book! I wanted to yell at them to leave me alone, but that never worked. Or the people around the Vatican that wants to sell you advanced tickets into the museum, no thank you I will just wait outside in line with everyone else.  It still bothers me whenever those people try to sell things, but not as much as it did at the beginning of the semester.

That is really my only complaint and the thing I found annoying, the beggars, but that is only a small fraction of my impression of a city.  And most of the time they congregate around big cities and monuments so I learned where and where not to go. Besides, the cute little towns are normally more enjoyable anyways! For example, Lucca was one of the cutest towns I visited in Italy and because it isn't as well known yet, nobody bothered us there! We might have gotten a few weird looks from the locals because they weren't expecting to see tourists there.

Also by the end of the semester I was able to understand a lot of a conversation that I would overhear! Normally it was at the beginning of a conversation, the "hellos", "how are you", "I'm good", but then things would get more complicated and I couldn't follow, but it was a definite improvement from the beginning! I have found myself using Italian words instead of English at times, just because I have been using them for 5 months. I feel bad because people think I'm crazy, but I really don't want to stop using Italian so I don't forget it.  So if you ever hear me say "Come?" "Vai!" "Allora" "Pronto" "Grazie" "Cosi-Cosi" "Tutti Bene!" just play along with it :)

Along with missing the language, I will incredibly miss the people there.  Even in my small town of Arezzo I made life-long connections with people. Those good-byes were the hardest because I have no idea if I will or ever will see them again.  The best thing about going over with OU students is that I can see them! I'm really glad those good-byes included "See you in Norman in the Fall!"

When I think about my favorite moments this semester so many things come to mind that I cannot chose just one.  It's always those moments when I look around thinking "this is one of the happiest moments of my life." Like sitting at a dinning room table with new friends from Germany eating traditional German food and an impromptu Piano playing. Or listening to the Beatles while driving down one of the prettiest roads and pulling over on the side of the road to run in the wild flowers.  One memory that will always stick is at the farewell dinner when we are going around giving toasts.  That moment I was just able to look around, listen to my friends give heart-felt, hilarious speeches about our time together and think this was truly a once in a lifetime experience.  There were also sad memories that I will never forget, like packing up and leaving Arezzo, going to my favorite cafe and the owner Massimo telling me "Tanti Auguri" which means "I wish you all the best", and pulling away from the Arezzo train station and seeing my second home slowly disappear behind the tuscan hills.

Leaving Italy was one of the hardest things I've had to do, probably harder then leaving the States because I knew I was coming back after the semester ended, but I have no idea when I will be back in Italy.  Finally getting home was such a weird feeling, whenever they announced we landed in DFW I really couldn't believe that I was back, although my exhaustion told me otherwise.  Seeing my mom and dad at the airport was just what I needed and my bed at home felt amazing!

When people ask me how it feels to be back, it feels really weird. I feel like life has just slowed down immensely and things here are very laid-back.  I go to class everyday from 1-5, I now have a job, and my exciting weekend plans include either going home or going to Dallas to see friends.  I wouldn't say that it's boring here, because there are plenty of things to do and people to see, it is just the same as I left it in December.  Although we did have an exciting day yesterday seeing if a tornado was going to hit Norman or not, I did not miss severe weather. However I did miss family, friends, tex-mex, hamburgers, free water, driving, being able to use my phone as a phone, and being able to sit on a couch and watch TV in English.

Long story short, if you ever have the chance to either live or study abroad do it! And don't go for a week or two, because you cannot even begin to experience the culture that way.  I hope you've enjoyed reading about my adventures and stories, I have plenty of them to share if anyone wants to hear them :)

Until then, ciao!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Break in Italy!

This week was Spring Break for OU in Arezzo and while a lot of people went to different countries I got to show my mom and sister why I love Italy so much! I think it's safe to say that we conquered the entire country of Italy, well from Rome up to Milan. The exciting adventure started for me on Saturday, but for my mom and sister it started when their plane left DFW on Friday night.

I met up with them at our apartment in Rome on Saturday night just before dinner time. I know it was a relief for all of us to see each other ;) After we got settled we went down the street for dinner, Hope and I had a pasta with pesto sauce. Sooo good. We were staying about a block away from the Vatican so after dinner we walked to St. Peter's Square! It was really cool to see this at night. They were exhausted so we turned in early this night.

Sunday was the day we conquered all of the monuments. By this time I am a pro at Rome so I knew exactly where to take them and how to get there. But of course there was the equivalent to the NYC marathon going on in Rome! Our luck, right? It did not stop us though, we first started out at the colosseum where this time we went inside! We also had passes to go inside of the Roman Forum so we spent about an hour looking around in there. If I were to go back I would definitely want to go with a tour so I knew what I was looking at, but we knew the history was there and that worked for us.  So back to this marathon...I think we were stuck inside of it. Every time we tried to get around it, we would run into it again! Like being trapped inside of a circle.  We ended up having to back-track a lot and eventually we ran into a point that wasn't barricaded, but we still had to cross where runners were, which was exciting. So we made our way to the Pantheon and stopped for lunch along the way, by this time it was about 2 p.m. In honor of St. Patty's Day we each had a beer for lunch! But not Guinness :/
After dinner we walked up to the Trevi fountain, Spanish Steps, then took the metro back to our apartment where we hung out for the rest of the night!

Monday was our first day of traveling somewhere new! We started the morning waiting in line to see the Sistine Chapel, but gave up 2 hours later in the never ending rain :( The morning wasn't completely wasted though! The line to get into St. Peters was running very fast so we ended up going in there instead! One of the prettiest churches I've been into yet with another art history freak-out by seeing Michelangelo's Pieta. We were on a time-crunch so we had to shorten our visit inside of the church. The next couple of hours was pretty hectic, from getting back to our apartment, gathering our suitcases, walking fast to the metro, taking the metro to catch our train, and then FINALLY getting on the train that would take us to Bologna! We arrived in Bologna two hours later where we caught a taxi to our hotel we would stay at for the night. After getting settled we were starving! So we headed to the bus stop to catch a bus into the city center, but the problem was we had no idea which stop we needed to get off at. We ended up getting of in front of the train station and eating at a cheap pizza place and had a crepe for dessert! Probably one of the best decisions instead of spending more money at a sit-down place. Then we needed to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Of Monsters And Men concert! So we took what we thought was the right bus back, but of course it wasn't! We ended up getting on the wrong bus that was going in the opposite direction of our hotel, but the driver helped us find the right one. So an hour later and we were back at the hotel with only 15 minutes to get ready for the concert. The hotel shuttle took us to the venue which was only about 5 minutes away. The guy warming up for the headliner was not bad either! But Of Monsters And Men were fantastic! I would see them again in a heartbeat. After the concert we had the challenge of getting a taxi...I had a number that the hotel gave me, but they kept putting me on hold! I tried another company but they didn't speak any english, downside of not knowing Italian. We finally got ahold of a taxi and soon we were back at the hotel around 12:30 a.m.!

Tuesday was our experience of driving in Italy! We rented a car from the Bologna airport and we were off to Tuscany! First stop was Arezzo so I could show off my town to Hope and Mom. This was the first small tuscan town they saw so I think they liked it! We ate lunch at Antica Fonte, the restaurant we had our welcome dinner at. Mom and I had the Papa Pomodoro. It was so amazing,  I might have to have it again there very soon :) After lunch we went to Bar Stefano's and had a cappuccino and pastry. Then gelato at one of the many gelato places in town! We wanted to make it to Greve before it got dark so around 4:30 we were back in the car on the way. The drive took about an hour, most of it winding around tuscan hills. Following our directions we made it before sunset! Our apartment was so adorable, but freezing!! So we cranked up the heat hoping it would warm up before we went to bed. After some grocery shopping, eating dinner, and meeting a family from Maryland we were back at the apartment drinking wine and playing the game Farkle. Probably my favorite night of the trip.

Wednesday was the day we lost our car. It started out by sleeping in! By 10 a.m. we were off to explore the cute little tuscany towns around Greve.  By 2 p.m. we made our way down to Sienna which is apparently a lot bigger then I thought it was! We parked our car alongside the city walls of Sienna and walked into an entrance into town to do some exploring. The city is a lot like Arezzo, but their Piazza Grande is probably twice the size of Arezzo's! Mom and Hope found a cute shop where they bought stuff for family and friends to take back home. Afterwards we were tired of walking in the rain so we decided to head back to the car. Well we thought we were going in the direction of the car...but after the stores and streets stopped looking familiar we knew we were lost! We had to ask for directions from three different people before deciding to call a taxi to take us around the city walls until we found our car! Eventually we found it after walking in the rain for an hour and a taxi ride later. When we got back to Greve we went grocery shopping so we could make dinner at our apartment, man did I miss my mom's cooking. It was sososoo good! That night we stayed in, drank more wine, had more fun :)

Thursday was the first day of Spring! And it actually felt like Spring! This day we made a trip up to Florence, where I had to put 10 euros worth of coins in the meter that only gave us 3 hours! So we had a lot to cover in a short time. We started at the Ponte Vecchio bridge where Hope almost sold half of her soul for a ring.  But she escaped from the lady without a dime spent ;) We hit all of the piazzas that we could then Hope and I climbed the 414 steps up the tower of the Duomo! The view was totally worth the climb, so pretty! Then we had to get back down the 414 steps, by this time we were starving! We found lunch and then Hope and I were off to feed the meter more coins. The rest of the day we shopped around some stores and then headed back to Greve.  We got back before sunset so we got to enjoy tuscany in the sun! At an appropriate dinner time for Italians we went back into town to eat dinner and then back at our apartment for the last night there.

Friday was the day we couldn't return our rental car. We woke up bright and early to head to the Florence airport to return our car so we could take a train up to Milan, but after about an hour of searching for the rental car place we gave up and decided to just drive to Milan instead. It was an overall very frustrating day, but we made it to our hotel just outside of Milan by 1:30! About an hour later we were in the city center of Milan. This is by far my favorite big city in Italy, probably the abundance of nice clothes is why. We ate our "last supper" together at the fanciest restaurant I've ever been to. I ordered a "salad" and got a huge chunk of buffalo cheese surrounded by cut up tomatoes. But it was so delicious!  After dinner we took the hour long bus ride back to our hotel and turned in early.

Saturday was the day I said goodbye to my mom and sister :( Again I really hate goodbyes, but this wasn't that bad since it was at 5:30 a.m. and I was half coherent.  They had to leave early to catch a 9 a.m. flight back and return the rental car at the airport, whereas I went back to bed until 9 a.m. Haha
I had some traveling also, a bus ride, and three trains later I was back in Arezzo by the afternoon.

Here are a couple of pictures of the week! But check my facebook for the rest of them!


Sisters in Italy! 

No biggie, just seeing a Michelangelo sculpture 

Cute town of Greve

Spring time fruit

Tuscany in the sun

Florence from up high 

Milan knows fashion 

Loved traveling with you two! 

I've been here for more then two months?!

It's crazy crazy crazy to think that I've been abroad for longer then two months (ten weeks to be exact). The longest I've ever been away from home is less then a month when I'm up at school which is only an hour away, but now I'm separated from home by 7 different time zones! But for some reason it doesn't really seem that far away, probably a little help from the internet.

Since I haven't posted on here since my weekend trip to Rome, which was way back in February I thought I would do a quick re-cap since then and talk about my spring break week in the next post!

The week after my Rome trip was pretty laid back, which was a nice change.  But exciting things were happening in Arezzo that weekend! On Friday, February 15th Arezzo celebrates the Madonna Conforto (Mary of Comfort) where they have a big festival mainly around the Duomo and inside. Businesses donate flowers and line the interior cathedral with big flower arrangements, which makes the church smell amazing! The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, drinking coffee, and probably studying ;)

On Tuesday I was ready to expect Aubrey from the train station after my Italian class! She got into town in the afternoon and I gave her a walking tour before my meeting at 4:30.  Afterwards we cooked a typical Italian dinner of pasta, cheese, bread, and wine.  The next day we headed off to Florence for our first art history class trip in the morning where we saw Michelangelo and Galateo's tombs! And also Masaccio's Trinity in the Santa Maria Novella Church. The art historian in me was freaking out by this point.

The next day Aubrey and I took a noon train to Rome for the weekend! On Thursday we hit up all of the monuments: colosseum, piazza novana, pantheon, and trevi fountain.  This time I got to go inside of the Pantheon and see the Trevi fountain at night. I highly recommend seeing the fountain at night, so pretty! The next morning we got in line early to go to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel! The line went by pretty quickly with great people watching to keep us entertained. I could not wait till the end to see the Sistine Chapel so we went there first instead of last.  Every time I saw a sign directing us to the chapel I got more and more excited and then finally we were there! We probably spent about a half hour just inside the chapel, just gawking at how incredible it is.  Tears were probably shed not gonna lie.  After spending time in there we fought an uphill battle against the crowd to get to the rest of the museum where we spent the rest of the morning and into the afternoon in. The rest of the day consisted of pizza eating, walking around Rome, and ending the night by seeing the Colosseum at night! On Saturday we were pretty exhausted, but we snuck one more church in to see Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Again, more art history freak outs for me.

On Monday I was saying goodbye to Aubrey at the train station, which always stinks. But that night we played Italians vs. Americans at a game of volleyball. Let's just say that I'm out of practice... The rest of the week was pretty chill and I stayed in Arezzo for the weekend because the Antique Market was in town, which meant lots of great people watching!

By this time we are in the first week of March and that weekend was my trip to London! Katie and I left Arezzo at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday morning to catch a plane out of Rome and landed in London at 2 p.m.! We met a really nice girl from Florence that helped us get into the city center of London at half the time! Around 4 p.m. Katie checked into her hotel and we met up with Hilary! I was so excited to see a familiar face. She took us to Chipotle since we haven't had mexican food since January. It. Was. Delicious! And we finished that night by seeing Wicked!

The next morning while Hilary was in class her friend, Kelsey took Katie and I around London to see St. Paul's cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, and Abbey Road! That afternoon we met back up with Hilary and Jackie to head to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I could literally write an entire blog post just about that, but I will keep it brief :) The tour started with us being in an auditorium where we watched a brief clip about the tour, the screen rose, and there was the Great Hall Doors. THE GREAT HALL DOORS. By this time I was flipping out. The doors opened and I walked into the great hall, the actually one they filmed! Total fangirl moment. The rest of the tour was amazing to, every time I turned around I saw something that made me freak out. I probably looked like a fool. Halfway through the tour you could get a drink of butterbeer. SO GOOD. Then the rest of tour consisted of the more detailed work that went into the making of the movies. Including the actual Hogwarts that they filmed! This thing was huge, which ensued more freak-out moments. Afterwards we ate at a cheap place called Hunger Inn where I had my first burger since I've been abroad! Not as good as what I can get in the States, but it'll do until May.

Saturday was total tourist day! Hilary took me around to all of the big monuments and landmarks in London. For lunch we had a traditional fish and chips along with Apple Cider :) For dinner we had another go at Chipotle, why not! And then met up with more of her friends at the Metropolitan Bar then finished the night by seeing Parliament and the Eye lit up at night! It was a perfect weekend in London!

On Sunday I met back up with Katie where it took us several tube, train, and plane rides to finally get back to Arezzo! It's always so nice getting back home, but reality hit whenever I had to start studying for midterms :( I won't go into that.

This brings us up to Spring Break where my mom and sister made the journey to come see me! Here are some pictures of this past month to entertain you while I work on my next post about spring break!

Candy stand outside of the Duomo for the Madonna Conforto Festival 


Masaccio Trinity 

Pantheon at night

Colosseum at night!

Ajax and Achilles Playing Dice!

Sistine Chapel taken from inside my purse haha

Trevi fountain at night!

Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa! 


The Millennium Bridge

Abbey House on Abbey Road 

One of the coolest props


It's truly magical 

Can't get enough of those double-deckers 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sotto il cielo di Roma

This weekend I made my first overnight trip to Rome, Hostel and everything! I was a little worried about it at first but it ended up being fantastic. For this trip I was the one calling the shots which is difficult for me because I'm never the one to make decisions. But I was the "girl with the map." Once you figure out how the subway (metro) system works, Rome is a synch to figure out. But getting to that point proved to be quite difficult.

We left comfortable Arezzo around 10 a.m. on Saturday and arrived at the Roma Termini station a little before 1. First obstacle, finding our hostel.  I intentionally booked a hostel that was very near the train station, which ended up being a great idea. It wasn't in the most populated area but that made it much cheaper. After asking for directions, the first of many times, we were walking up to our tiny little hostel that could pass for a normal apartment building.  We checked in, got our keys, found our rooms, and then we were off to explore the city!

The two things I wanted to see were the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain.  The colosseum was either a half an hour walk or a 5 minute subway ride, we chose the shorter route. But by the time we actually found the right station and line, it had been a lot longer then 30 minutes. We finally found the correct line that would take us to the "Colosseo" station. During the ride I had mentioned that as soon as I stepped out of the station I wanted to see the Colosseum, and I did. You literally walk up from under the ground and BAM there's the Colosseum. It took my breath away.  Seeing well-known objects in person is one of the most surreal moments, I cannot describe the feeling. We opted out of actually going inside to avoid waiting in a 3 hour line so we just walked around it, marveled, took lots of pictures, and marveled more.

Around the Colosseum is pretty spectacular also. Right next to it is the Arc of Constantine, Arc of Titus, Palatino, Cico Massimo, and so on. So many historic sights are in that area, I just wish I knew a lot more about them. After spending some time in BC Rome we walked up the street to see the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II building, also known as the "Wedding Cake" building.  This was the largest building I've ever seen in my life. And I've seen big buildings, the Empire State Building has nothing on this thing. I might have strained my neck from looking up so much, it was just so beautiful. But it was time to see my next stop, the Trevi Fountain. We got turned around a few times but ended up seeing the Teatro Marcello, which looks like a miniature Colosseum. Realizing we were going in the exact opposite direction, we turned around and got to see all of the beautiful buildings again!

I'm pretty sure I squealed whenever I saw the fountain, it was spectacular and I never wanted to leave. The piazza around the fountain was swarming with people, but we pushed our way through to be right up next to the water.  I grabbed my penny and what happened? I didn't know what to wish for! I had been so excited to see it that I hadn't even thought about what my wish was going to be! I finally thought of one and threw in my penny. Hopefully it'll come true! After we all made our wishes we were off to see the Pantheon, Piazza Novana, and Spanish Steps. Dinner proved to be very difficult to find because we are cheap college students. We were going to settle for just an apertivo, but the place we found had the worst selection of appetizers but we had already ordered our drinks so it was to late to leave.  Liz and I were still starving so we found a cute little restaurant near our hostel that didn't have a coperto (cover charge) and they were playing the local soccer match also!

The next day we packed up, checked out, and were off to see the Pope! Finding the Vatican was very easy because you just follow the crowd.  We made it in the Piazza around 11 so we spent time looking around, taking pictures, and people watching.  Seriously some of the best people watching ever. Then finally at noon, the windows open, curtains are drawn, the crowd goes crazy, and then the Pope steps into the window for everyone to see him! He was very very tiny because his window is really high up, but we still saw him and got to hear his weekly address. It was such an amazing experience. 15 minutes later we were attempting to leave the Vatican to go back to Rome. Picture thousands of people trying to leave the same place at the same time through the tiniest entryways. It was poor planning. But we made our way through the crowd, back into Rome, on the subway, ran to our train, and barely made it on the train before it pulled out of the station!

This trip was definitely a growing experience for me. From picking the hostel, train times, what to see, and where to eat. It was all in my hands, which is a lot of pressure! I think I'll let someone else take charge of the next trip.

Lessons learned:
-Always have a plan and a back-up plan
-Don't eat at places next to important monuments or Piazzas (you will get charged 5 Euro for a cappuccino)
-Always have a decisive person with you
-Plan out the train schedules into your schedule
-Don't wear cute shoes that are "sort of comfortable"
-Be a tourist first, then a knowledgeable traveler
-Always ask if there's a cover charge

Things I ate and drank:
-Margarita pizza (I always have a pizza everywhere I go to see who has the best)
-Weird appetizers
-House wine from the best penne pasta place
-5 Euro cappuccino with an incredible view of the Colosseum
-3 Euro cappuccino and my first muffin since I've been here!

Rome pizza. I ate it all. No regrets. 

First sites of the Colosseum. Truly remarkable 

Arc of Constantine 

Best view you can get!

"Cake" Building. Pretty incredible 

I seriously almost cried whenever I saw this. 


Throw what you know 

We went to another Country! 

The Pope! He's up there don't worry :) 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Just a Reminder

Sometimes I need to remind myself how lucky I am....

Today wasn't the best of days. I probably woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something, but I was almost late to class with nothing in my belly, I was not dressed warmly enough for this weather today, I basically sat in front of my computer all day looking up trips/getting excited about trips/getting bummed out about trips I can't take, found out I probably can't go to ACL this year, and I'm kicking myself for not buying tickets to the Mumford and Sons concert in Florence when they were only 30 euros.  They are now $130.

So I needed to blog about the things I'm EXTREMELY grateful for, because I need this reminder especially today.

-I got to message my mom, dad, and sister today
-I got gelato tonight
-I'm in the process of planning a trip to Ireland
-I live in Italy
-I'm going to Rome on Saturday
-I might see Aubrey in a few weeks
-I'm going to London in a month
-I love all of my classes
-I get to see my Mom and Sister in a month!
-I'm going to an Of Monsters and Men concert in a month
-I'm going to see the Avett Brothers in June
-I live in Italy
-I have the best support system back at home

So definitely the good stuff outweighs the sometimes bad days, but I just needed a little reminder.

Thanks for letting me complain for a little bit, I promise the next post will be full of awesome things because I'm going to Rome on Saturday!!! :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

You Had Me at Firenze

Today I went to Florence, here it is called Firenze which I think is a much prettier way of saying it. The town is just fabulous, much different then the little town of Arezzo that I'm used to. I'll take you through my day, so I can re-live it and hopefully everyone can feel like they were there also!

Got up early to get on a train, met up with a friend, train ride, arrive in Florence, walk around, walk around, BOOM there's the Duomo.  Seriously, you just walk around the corner and there it is.  

So after staring at this huge huge building, being haggled by a gypsy wearing wedge heels, maybe shedding a couple of tears whenever I saw the Baptistery of St. John doors (one of my favorite Renaissance artworks), it was time to grab a cappuccino and pastry. 

We found this really cute cafe right next to Piazza Della Signoria. This was one of the prettiest drinks I've ever had so I needed a picture. The barista gave me a weird look when I took the picture so I said "It's pretty!" then he smiled and straightened his tie, thanking me for calling him pretty! Some people just have the best humor. Haha 

After breakfast it was a trip to see the canal and then off to the leather market to meet up with more friends. All of the vendors kept telling us that for us everything is free. Yeah right. I didn't end up buying anything, but a few people did some price haggling. 

The rest of the afternoon we walked and shopped around. 

Some of our group in front of the Duomo 

Next was to make the climb up to Piazza Michelangelo to see the most beautiful view of the city.  We luckily made it right before sun set! The sightseeing and people watching is pretty great, this brings so many tourists so you get all kinds of people. We were even treated with a small concert going on! A man playing acoustic guitar singing some classic songs, like Elton John and The Beetles, in Italian. I tried singing along, but it didn't work out. 

I could spend all day, everyday here

After walking back down the hill it was dark and time to go back home. We made it to the train station and within 10 minutes we were on a train headed home, seriously the best timing ever. Getting back to Arezzo was the best feeling ever. I love the big city feel of Florence, but it is so nice coming back to a small quite area that I'm familiar with. 

I'll have to post more pictures on facebook later, I think I took around 200! But right now I'm exhausted!    

Ciao and buona notte! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Day of Firsts

In a nutshell, today was absolutely crazy busy. It gets its own blog post! So let's start from the beginning:

Today was the first day of classes. This past week we have been blessed with no classes and almost everyone forgot we were here to actually study instead of hanging out and eating delicious food...bummer.

First class of the day was Italian. Our teacher is born and raised from Arezzo so she knows her stuff. We worked mostly on the alphabet and how to pronounce letters....I definitely need to look over that before I go to bed. Right after class I went to grab a cappuccino at Coffee O' Clock! Probably the closet to America tasting coffee you can get here. After being haggled by a traveling salesman for about 5 minutes, I headed out to go to the grocery store.  I thought shopping in America was difficult, try it when everything is in Italian. It consisted of a lot of "I think this is ham?" Thankfully I have my handy pocket dictionary for use.

The biggest difference between grocery stores here is they charge you for plastic bags, so you have to bring your own.  Which is cool for them being eco-friendly, but not if you forget your bag-pack at home :(

After shopping I had another class at 1; Italian Culture through Literature and Cinema. It should be a very interesting class with a LOT of reading. I have to read 15 chapters by next Monday. YIKES!

Since I'm an avid coffee drinker I need to save money on buying it at cafes everyday, so after class I went to the home goods store to buy a moca maker and back to the grocery store for things I forgot. On the way back home I bought my first bottle of wine!

Pinot Grigio from Michalengelo's cafe

After all the grocery shopping I had to rush back to school for a Student Advisor Council (SAC) meeting where we had elections, and I got elected to be secretary! 

The rest of the night consisted of cooking my first actual meal (with the stove and everything), buying my first gelato, and actually doing assigned reading before class! 

Tomorrow should be a pretty adventurous day as well, with more classes, food making, and attempting at learning this language I'm surrounded by. 

I'll leave you with some pictures in the meantime! 
Spinach ravioli with pesto sauce for dinner :)

First gelato! Nutella and a Cream flavor. Super delicious.